Since the inclusion of Coptic in the Unicode Standard, Coptic Unicode fonts have
rapidly replaced a large array of divergent legacy fonts in standard scholarly work.
A number of special virtual "keyboards" have been developed to handle data-entry
of these fonts. One can even fairly easily create one's own Coptic keyboard. This page
is an effort to provide reliable and up-to-date information on this still-developing
field. Corrections and additions welcome to the address on our main page.
See also: Christian Askeland's Coptic Language Links (some links no longer operable)
Coptic in the Unicode Standard (currently 8.0)
Within the Unicode Standard, Coptic letters are divided between the Greek Block and
the newer Coptic Block. Originally, the seven non-Greek letters (six Sahidic, one Bohairic)
were added to the Greek Block. Later, a Coptic Block was added to contain the Coptic form
of the Greek letters, plus other Coptic markings. The seven non-Greek letters, however,
remain in the Greek Block and are not duplicated in the Coptic Block.
Coptic in the Greek Block
The Coptic Block
Note on sorting problems: It is a natural assumption that the use of a Coptic Unicode font
will result in Coptic words sorting properly, but that is not always the case. Different
sorting (collation) algorithms are used by different software. Currently, Open Office sorts
the Coptic letters properly, but MS Office (at least since the 2003 version) places the seven
Coptic letters of the Greek block before, instead of after, the letters in the Coptic block.
Coptic Unicode Fonts
Not all Unicode fonts contain the Coptic Block. Of those that do, some aren't
acceptable because they don't handle overlining properly. Even among those
that are acceptable, however, the appearance of most of them leaves something
to be desired. (The fonts listed below are free unless otherwise noted.)
See my CU font overview and test (enlargeable)
See also Coptic Unicode Fonts (at moheb.de)
Acceptable (handle overlines correctly)
Antinoou (formerly Keft; Michael Everson) <== recommended
New Athena Unicode
Titus Cyberbit (you'll have to fill in a little information)
Not Acceptable (don't handle overlines correctly)
Alphabetum ($19), Analecta, ArialCoptic, MPH 2B Damase, Quivira
(Alphabetum comes close, but it has two Coptic letters higher than the overline)
Ready-to-go Windows Keyboards for Coptic Unicode
Unicode Coptic "keyboards" differ from each other in their key-mappings, and
particularly in how they handle the extra Coptic letters (there are 30 letters in Sahidic
Coptic, 31 in Bohairic, but only 26 alpha keys on an English keyboard). The Logos
keyboard uses a ctrl+alt+alpha combo for the extra letters. This causes problems with
some programs, but the device was carried over by Mastronarde, who used the Logos
keyboard as a basis for his own. Mastronarde's innovation was to use the shifted-alpha
keys for overlined letters, rather than for Coptic capitals, as in Logos. (The Coptic
capitals are larger, but don't differ in form from the unshifted letters. The Logos keyboard
has an overline key that is used for all letters.)
The Askeland keyboard, in addition to having a different Coptic-English mapping than
the Logos and Mastronarde keyboards, doesn't use the shifted-alpha keys for either
capital Coptic letters (Logos) or overlined letters (Mastronarde). Instead, it uses four
of the shifted-alpha keys for the extra Coptic letters, and the rest for other purposes.
This avoids the problems associated with ctrl+alt in the other keyboards. (Overlining
is accomplished with the shift-A key.)
Mastronarde Keyboard (Donald Mastronarde, Berkeley) keyboard layout
... (The Bohairic letter khei, which doesn't show on the layout, is ctrl-alt-j)
Askeland Keyboard (Christian Askeland, Cambridge) keyboard layout
Make your own keyboard or modify one of the above!
Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (MSKLC)
Judy Redman's experiences and advice:
Typing Coptic on a PC (10 Jan 2010)
Typing Coptic - 2 (22 May 2010)
(Judy modified the Logos keyboard to avoid the alt-ctrl problem.)
Other Keyboards for Coptic Unicode
Michael Everson, who created the Antinoou font in consultation with Stephen Emmel,
also created some unicode keyboards for Mac and a couple keymaps to use with a piece
of software called 'Keyman' on Windows. The Mac keyboards are free, but Keyman
costs either 24 USD (light version) or 69 USD (pro version). Both the Mac keyboards
and Everson's Keyman file can be downloaded from Everson's Antinoou site.
(For Mac keyboards, see "Installing a Coptic keyboard layout on the Mac OS";
for Keyman, you'll need Keyman Desktop in addition to Everson's file under
"Installing a Keyman Coptic keyboard layout on Windows XP".
A page of The Gospel of Thomas Resource Center
This page installed 3 Sep 2010. Rev 26 Mar 2014. Author M.W.Grondin
Rev 22 Apr 2016: Antinoou font previously erroneously attributed to Christian Askeland
Rev 8 May 2016: rearranged content, added "other keyboards"
Rev 31 Jul 2018: address of Mastronarde Keyboard changed